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ExXB
18th Sep 2016, 08:43
In a few threads here (texting and driving; abusive behaviour; evacuating hand luggage; homicide death penalty; etc.) the 'solution' to the problem is often increased and/or new penalties.

I've been googling the effectiveness of deterrence and have found numerous studies that appear to show that the threat of punishment isn't alone effective in deterring most individuals, or in preventing reoccurrence of the behaviour.

One common reoccurring theme in my reading is that the certainty of being caught is a vastly more powerful deterrent than the punishment. To me this makes a lot of sense.

So why are we not doing more to raise the certainty that the person will be caught and punished?

Thoughts?

VP959
18th Sep 2016, 09:18
I'm sure you're right. In the thread on texting and driving I wrote:

.........there is no enforcement, so what's the point?

We can't enforce these laws because we don't have the resources, and are not prepared to make those resources available.

It's an easy way to get a sound bite in the media by just increasing a penalty, though, it makes the politicians look good and has no cost...................

bnt
18th Sep 2016, 11:39
Whenever I hear about how capital punishment is not a deterrent, it's almost always using the system in the USA as an example. However, the capital punishment system in the USA is broken and dysfunctional, and I would warn people to be sceptical about any "lessons" derived from it. Criminals sentenced to death are rarely executed, even after multiple appeals (which take many years) fail to exonerate them. Colloquially, "Death Row" - the prison system, not the rap record label - is a badge of honour, and the threat of execution is remote.

Note that I am not taking a position on the validity of capital punishment itself. I am only making the point that you should not judge its deterrence value by looking at the way it is done in the USA. Rather, look at places where the sentences are actually carried out, such as Singapore, if you want better data on deterrence.

cattletruck
18th Sep 2016, 12:01
certainty of being caught

I'm guessing this must be right. I got caught three times in a row for jay walking last year and got let off all three times - I could not believe my luck.

I've certainly changed my behaviour and now have a good look out for any policemen.

Gertrude the Wombat
18th Sep 2016, 12:29
So why are we not doing more to raise the certainty that the person will be caught and punished?
Please Sir! Me Sir! Me Sir! I know that one!


It's because enforcement costs money. Changing the penalties (which are never going to be applied anyway if nobody ever gets caught) is vastly cheaper.

Pontius Navigator
18th Sep 2016, 12:59
GTW, it might also be apparently simple to increase the fine to meet the enforcement cost. But of course enforcement would then concentrate where there are the greatest traffic flows and revenue earning capability.

The school mum in the village hanging on to their mobile as they arrive or depart is not going to get caught. May be OK on day 1 but by day 3 if no enforcer is visibile it would be back to square one.

KelvinD
18th Sep 2016, 14:41
Or, if you want some better evidence of deterrence, try Saudi Arabia where capital punishment verges on a form of national sport! It obviously doesn't work there so why should it work elsewhere? Perhaps China might also be a good example.

UniFoxOs
18th Sep 2016, 15:22
IMHO it is a combination of penalty AND likelihood of being caught. If the penalty for, say, jaywalking was death and not enforced - nobody takes any notice. If the penalty was a dollar but 100% guaranteed to be caught and have to pay - no jaywalking.

419
18th Sep 2016, 16:21
Or, if you want some better evidence of deterrence, try Saudi Arabia where capital punishment verges on a form of national sport! It obviously doesn't work there so why should it work elsewhere? Perhaps China might also be a good example.

How do you know that capital punishment in Saudi or China isn't a deterrent?
Just because some people still commit crimes that carry the death penalty doesn't mean that many more potential criminals haven't carried out similar crimes as they are afraid of the consequences.

KelvinD
18th Sep 2016, 17:04
419: Don't be daft! In 2015 Wikipedia reports a total of 157 executions, the highest total for 20years. On a single day, 2nd January 2016, 47 parted company with their heads. Something isn't working when you have reached almost 30% of the previous year's total after only 2 days.
The Chinese count is of course much higher. If it was really an effective deterrent, nobody would have committed capital crimes since the very first execution centuries ago.

meadowrun
18th Sep 2016, 17:33
Perhaps it's more a question of allocation of resources.
Try this:
Stop issuing parking tickets when roads are not blocked by infractions, (without announcing it to anyone), take all those personnel and have them devote all that time to spotting the phoning and texting while driving miscreants and fining those instead.
Probably make more $$$ to boot.

abgd
18th Sep 2016, 17:49
The other reason it's wrong to extrapolate from the death penalty on this issue is that the sort of crimes that are likely to lead to it (at least in the USA), aren't likely to be committed by reasonable people.

Who kills another person deliberately? I suppose there will be the occasional ruthless contract killer or neighbour with a grudge. But most of them will be the sort of people who don't generally think in terms of actions, consequences, future, delayed gratification etc... At least at the time of committing the crime.

Most people doing things like driving whilst phoning will be much better able to weigh up risks/benefits of various actions than someone on death row.

Pontius Navigator
18th Sep 2016, 17:58
Whilst we acknowledge that the low risk of being caught is no deterrent against a modest fine and 6 points how about a swingeing penalty?

Like risk assessment probability versus consequence, if the consequence was an immediate ban and confiscation of phone/car etc,then who is going to run the risk be it 1% or even 0.01% risk?

VP959
18th Sep 2016, 18:36
Whilst we acknowledge that the low risk of being caught is no deterrent against a modest fine and 6 points how about a swinging penalty?

Like risk assessment probability versus consequence, if the consequence was an immediate ban and confiscation of phone/car etc,then who is going to run the risk be it 1% or even 0.01% risk?
For the specific case of motoring offences, then the evidence suggests that a ban, with fairly tough enforcement, seems to work. The incidence of drink driving has decreased a lot since it became a near-automatic ban, with enough risk of getting caught to dissuade many.

This works in well-policed region (usually the most well-populated areas) - here in the countryside drink driving is rife; I can guarantee that at least 20% of those leaving the pub up the lane from me driving a vehicle will be well over the limit tonight, for example. The reason is simple; there is one police car covering around 4 dozen villages, and two of those have a large population of anti-social kids, so the single car will ALWAYS be there in the evenings.

The locals know this, because our local community police officer wrote an article in the parish newsletter, answering a question as to why we never saw a police presence here. It was pretty much like giving a green light to all those who drink and drive, by telling them there was a near-zero chance of them encountering a police officer in the area...................

Flash2001
18th Sep 2016, 18:46
In Texas it sees to be legal to talk and listen on a cell phone while you are driving except in a school zone?? If it's unsafe to do in a school zone, why not elsewhere? Oh well...

Pontius Navigator
18th Sep 2016, 18:48
VP, I think in this neck of the wolds DD is only detected after some other offence or a crash. If however they were allowed to set up traffic checks near pubs then things would certainly change.

I am just waiting to be asked "Have you been drinking Sir?" to which I would reply "Yes officer" and confidently expect to be under the limit unless someone put brandy in my coffee.

419
18th Sep 2016, 23:17
The Chinese count is of course much higher. If it was really an effective deterrent, nobody would have committed capital crimes since the very first execution centuries ago.
A deterrent of any sort will never stop all crimes being committed. Maybe the rate of crimes that receive the death penalty in China would be double or treble what they are now if the death penalty wasn't in place there.

UniFoxOs
19th Sep 2016, 09:09
I am just waiting to be asked "Have you been drinking Sir?" to which I would reply "Yes officer" and confidently expect to be under the limit unless someone put brandy in my coffee

Often thought that myself, but I fear the result would be a lecture about wasting police time (*) and a minute examination of every part of my vehicle until something bookable was discovered.

Even though he wouldn't have believed me if I had said that I hadn't been drinking and was going to breathalyse me anyway, so he wouldn't have been wasting time by breathalysing someone who genuinely hadn't had a drink.

Tankertrashnav
19th Sep 2016, 09:46
Whilst we acknowledge that the low risk of being caught is no deterrent against a modest fine and 6 points how about a swinging penalty?

Steady on P-N! I would think that even the most hard line contributor to this forum would consider hanging a bit over the top for a motoring offence.

Or did you mean swingeing? ;)

bcgallacher
19th Sep 2016, 09:51
Numerous studies in the US have consistently shown that states with the death penalty mostly have higher homicide rates than those without - however the state with the lowest homicide rate,New Hampshire,has the death penalty .Over the years my opinion on the death penalty has swung back and forth - at this time I do not think that it has any deterrence and should be abolished as conviction errors cannot be rectified. If we separate deterrence and punishment one could make a case for the death penalty for the likes of child and serial killers - it would not deter others but would punish those who committed such heinous crimes.

Pontius Navigator
19th Sep 2016, 09:55
TTN,not necessarily by the neck :)

Pontius Navigator
19th Sep 2016, 10:03
Bcg, the death penalty can serve as an inducement to kill all witnesses and police attempting an arrest.

It might deter some using a limited weapon - knife, blunt instrument, strangulation or poison, but not a gunman

It would not deter a terrorist.

I agree with you about an ambivalent view. Perhaps rigorous incarceration with no amenities, ie a living death.

ExXB
19th Sep 2016, 10:27
Numerous studies in the US have consistently shown that states with the death penalty mostly have higher homicide rates than those without - however the state with the lowest homicide rate, New Hampshire, has the death penalty.

From wiki:

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The only crime punishable by it is capital murder.

Since 1734, twenty-four people have been executed, with the last execution carried out in 1939

I would say that, in New Hampshire, the death penalty is not a deterrent.

radeng
19th Sep 2016, 17:45
ExXB

One common reoccurring theme in my reading is that the certainty of being caught is a vastly more powerful deterrent than the punishment.

A certain Sir Robert Peel came up with that almost 200 years ago. So the old 'watch' system got replaced by the Metropolitan Police, with pretty immediate reductions in the crime rate. But for the probability of being caught to be high, you need enough people to enforce the law. Cut the number of enforcement staff, increase the number of laws that are to be enforced and one will get a lower probability of being caught. So then you increase penalties but it doesn't work! It didn't in the 18th and 19th centuries, either. The modern answer appears to be something out of Dilbert - 'work smarter, not harder', with weasel words from the Home Office and some PCCs about 'increased resources' and 'increased efficiency' and similar BS.

bcgallacher
19th Sep 2016, 20:36
ExXB - with regard to New Hampshire, it proves the point that the death penalty does not deter in itself. I believe that when the death penalty was abolished in the UK murder conviction rate rose as juries were not so reluctant to convict.

G0ULI
19th Sep 2016, 20:44
The only deterrent is an almost certainty of getting caught.

Murder is an extremely poor example of a crime where deterrence may or may not work given that the majority of murders are committed within families or by persons known to each other. Stranger murders are crimes that absorb massive amounts of police time and resources and frequently remain unsolved for years until a suspect or close family member is arrested and DNA taken for some other matter.

Sue VÍtements
20th Sep 2016, 00:03
the state with the lowest homicide rate,New Hampshire,has the death penaltyit gets really cold up there. That probably keeps the murder figures down.


I think a deterrent will never work, well it will for people with a lot to lose, but most people commit crimes thinking they'll never get caught. Having read the above though I now also realise that a lot of crime, especially murders are done in the heat of the moment, so again a good deterrent has some effect, but not that much